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From The Socialist newspaper, 10 October 2012

Health workers must fight attacks on jobs and pay

Call a 24-hour general strike to defend the NHS from the government's cuts and privatisation monster

Save the NHS! London protest 7 Sep 2011, photo Dave Carr

Save the NHS! London protest 7 Sep 2011, photo Dave Carr   (Click to enlarge)

Hardly a day passes without reports of ward closures, casualty departments shutting, and more job losses in the National Health Service. The government's savage budget cuts and exorbitant privatisation schemes are part of an insidious drive to abolish the NHS as a publicly owned and run health service. The following article shows the devastating impact of what the NHS break-up will mean for health workers and patients.

Roger Davey, Chair, Wiltshire and Avon Health Branch, Unison (personal capacity)

The decision by the majority of NHS Trusts in the South West to break away from national agreements on pay and conditions has huge consequences, not just for health workers, but for the whole of the public sector and for the entire population's health needs.

This new 'consortium' is about to put forward proposals that, if implemented, would result in health workers suffering a staggering 15% cut in their pay and conditions.

This should act as a warning to the trade union movement everywhere that the bosses' offensive against the working class is likely to become even more brutal and savage over the next period.

Earlier this year a leaked document revealed that 20 NHS organisations in the South West have paid 10,000 to join what is, in effect, a pay cartel. These trusts employ over 60,000 workers (90% of medical staff in the region), and include almost all of the major acute hospitals in the South West. The document itself contains a list of proposals which would destroy the terms and conditions of health workers.

The consortium plans to: increase the working week; cut basic pay; reduce annual leave entitlement; cut unsocial hours payments; introduce performance-related increments; cut sickness pay and reduce redundancy pay.

However, the threat to national collective bargaining is not the only issue facing health workers. Funding in the NHS has fallen from a 6% increase per year under Labour (much of it going to the private sector) to just 0.4%.

Alongside the unaffordable cost of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes and privatisation, this represents the biggest financial cutback in the history of the NHS. Already this is leading to the closure of wards, casualty departments, and to the 'rationalisation' - ie cuts and rationing - of NHS care.

Furthermore, with the advent of the Health and Social Care Act, it means that from next April NHS finances will be in the hands of GP consortiums, or, in reality, private companies, with the emphasis on making profit instead of patient care. This will be in addition to the further development of the commercial health market with the growing domination of ruthless private healthcare companies.

The defence of the NHS, like the protection of workers' living standards, can only be achieved by mobilising the strength and power of the trade union movement.

Whether you are a cleaner in the South West or a teaching assistant in the North East you will experience the same attacks, the same bosses, and feel the same anger.

South West Socialist Party members who work in the NHS are demanding the unions call a regional demo and run an indicative ballot for strikes, so action can be organised if the employees don't back down.

A 24-hour general strike by the trade unions can be the first step in harnessing this anger, and represent the beginning of the end for austerity and the coalition government.

Stop Tory privatisation plans

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In The Socialist 10 October 2012:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Tories promise more pain... Kick out the 'nasty party'!

Labour Party conference - not fighting austerity

Arguing the case for a 24-hour general strike

Birmingham Tory conference demo

'Millions crying out for leadership and for an alternative'

Anti-austerity candidates selected for November contests

No welfare cuts

Health workers must fight attacks on jobs and pay

Politicians line up to attack abortion rights

The hidden homeless - "Sofa surfing is my lot"

Them & Us

Transport feature

Send the transport privatisers packing

International socialist news and analysis

Venezuela presidential election

Greece: escalating the action against austerity

South Africa: 'What are we doing about this government that is killing us?'

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Why we're marching on 20 October

More success for Socialist Students

Save East Midlands ambulances

Campaign Kazakhstan: A musical and political evening

Youth Fight for Jobs and Education fortnight of action 13-27 October

Dewsbury fights health service cuts

Waltham Forest: Parents and staff unite against school sell-off

Sunderland anti-fascists stand up against divisive EDL

Socialist Party workplace news

South Wales bus workers receive strong support for strike

Fighting the construction industry blacklist

Workplace nurseries saved in HMRC

Leeds solidarity with Crossrail battle

Mid Yorkshire Health admin staff ballot for strike

Bin workers' strike threat

Workplace news in brief


TV review : Masters of Money - Karl Marx

Marx was right!


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